Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Application Overview for Newly Proposed Charter School in Fort Wayne

Who is proposing this school?

Keith Birkhold who is the CEO of Stellar School Services, LLC located here in Ft. Wayne. SSS is a limited liability for-profit company est. in 2006 under the name Stellar Educational Management Servies, LLC. http://www.stellarschoolservices.com/

Keith Birkhold has been trying to establish charter schools for several years.  He first tried to open up virtual charter schools in Indiana, but was denied each time. He does have one school in Ohio called Star Academy of Toledo which is managed by a company called Mosaica.

Key Findings: He is looking to create 5-10 schools. His strategic goals for the SSS business: “expand SSS’ (Stellar School Services) impact through strategic messaging and outreach efforts with key influence makers”; “research, develop and build a long-term brand and marketing strategy”;  “integrate the brand and marketing strategies”

What kind of school?

A K-12 (at full enrollment) school beginning with K-6. The focus will be a bilingual/STEM school.


1025 West Rudisill Blvd., Fort Wayne, IN – on the former Taylor University of Fort Wayne campus

What is being proposed?
  • Will adapt the Sakai digital learning platform to support SSS managed school
  • SA will establish a 4 month marketing strategy by utilizing the teaching staff for marketing, community outreach, and enrollment activities.
  • 1st year - Two highly qualified teachers per classroom to promote collaboration and be more effective at addressing remediation needs – then in year two they would separate
  • All students will have a tablet PC.
  • Typical school day for a 2nd grader – 7-7:55 Early Arrival/Breakfast; End of day 4:00 (tutoring till 5 if student is struggling)
  •  Teachers report 7:30 am and leave at 4:45 pm.
  •  If students are below 70% mastery – summer school will be mandatory.
  • Will work closely with Turnstone and admit any SPED students – faculty list has 2 SPED teachers budgeted.
  • Since they aim to be a bilingual school – all staff and administrators will be hired with training in ELL or training will be provided. Staff will engage in training to become fluent in Spanish in one year.  They know it will reduce the pool of applicants so they are going to try and recruit from teacher colleges in Chicago, Texas, and California. First, will recruit locally. Then also work with TFA. Look to areas with high percentage of bilingual teachers (Chicago, LA, South Texas) All teachers must be fluent in Spanish within 12 months. Anticipates hiring teachers with 0-5 years in the beginning years.
  •  Targeting Hispanic families – through FW Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Cinco de Mayo celebrations
  • Will begin an aggressive recruitment campaign once approved.
  •  NWEA testing will be used along with all the other state testing requirements.
  • Will implement a continuous and rigorous system of data collection – they are extremely specific on how this will be done. Realistically, it’s going to be quite the challenge for a teacher esp. if they hire recent college grads. They are pushing the use of the Sakai Learning Management System (which all I could gather was that it has been used in higher ed)
  • Using many ideas from the Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA) in L.A. and the Denver School of Science and Tech. School (which is supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
  • Teacher aides for every classroom
  • Atyani Howard from CNCA will work with SA to design a professional development program that integrates with the data-instruction looping system.
  •  “Our strategy will be to out-compete local schools for the best new teachers by partnering with local colleges for training their teachers, identifying top performers, and offering a better starting employment package and work environment.” Merit pay system yet to be determined. NWEA will be used for performance bonuses.
  • Min. 1 year increase for those already on grade level and 3 years to catch kids up. Of course it says that the performance pool will be tied to the financial strength of SA.
  • Curriculum – Houghton Mifflin as a resource with mostly technology resources to be used. Singapore Math to be used. 

No comments: